Community-Led Strategies Can Help Advance Equitable Clean Energy Investments

Jay Owen Community Development Solutions, Resource Efficiency, Transforming Finance

Growing up in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts, I experienced firsthand social, economic, and environmental injustices. One of the most polluted places in California, Watts suffers from cumulative environmental burdens. These environmental hazards are evident in the Alameda Corridor, a 20-mile-long freight line responsible for air pollution, and a Superfund site adjacent to the local public high school. The pollution is one reason the residents of Watts live 10 fewer years on average than those residing in nearby affluent neighborhoods. Just by living there, my life expectancy was likely reduced.

My commitment to working at the intersection of social and environmental justice is personal; it stems from my years having to advocate for access to clean air, clean water, affordable energy, and the right to live in a neighborhood not plagued by environmental neglect. But my experiences are not unique—many people of color and low-income communities across the nation live in neighborhoods that face staggering environmental, health, and social challenges.

In an ACEEE report and accompanying digital StoryMap released today, we identified six effective community-based clean energy strategies and case examples of community-based organizations (CBOs) working to advance equitable, local clean energy solutions for communities plagued by disinvestment and systemic injustices. These new resources offer recommendations for decision makers interested in engaging and supporting community-based clean energy efforts.  Continue reading